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Turkey’s Earthquakes Struck the Heart of the World’s Largest Refugee Population. Here’s How to Help

The devastating earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria early Monday, are affecting some of the most vulnerable people in the world. More than four million Syrians who rely on immediate humanitarian aid live in the region, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The first earthquake, which was magnitude 7.8, is one of the strongest to hit the region in the last century, affecting an area already confronting a cholera outbreak and harsh winter weather. More than 2,800 people have died and thousands of others were injured in the earthquakes, which struck when people were in bed sleep. First responders are scrambling to rescue people trapped under toppled buildings.

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Turkey is the world’s biggest refugee host country. About 3.6 million Syrian refugees live in the nation following the protracted Syrian Civil War. Many of these refugees live in southeastern Turkey in the area where the earthquakes struck.

The humanitarian situation in Syria makes recovery even more precarious for people there, according to U.N.

“Sadly, needs are rising rapidly in Syria and not everyone who requires assistance is visible. Over 75% of all sub-districts in the country are classified as being under severe, extreme, or catastrophic conditions,” said United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim for Syria, El- Mostafa Benlamlih, in a statement. “We must act quickly to ensure more communities do not slide into an inescapable loop of deprivation and negative coping mechanisms.”

Turkey earthquakes map
Lon Tweeten–TIMEThe earthquakes that struck early Monday, Feb. 6 were some of the biggest in the region in a century.
Earthquakes jolts Turkiye's provinces
Oguz Yeter—Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesAn aerial view of a damaged building after an earthquake in Adana, Turkey on Feb. 06, 2023.

Some nations have already committed to sending aid. The U.K. promised to send a team of 76 search and rescue specialists and rescue dogs to Turkey. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed condolences and said his government is mobilizing resources to help.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also tweeted that it was launching immediate assistance from their Disaster Response Emergency Fund to make sure relief efforts can continue.

Consider donating to the following organizations to help:

Syrian American Medical Society

The Syrian American Medical Society is a relief organization working on the front lines of the crisis. They continue to service the area though at least one of their hospitals has been closed due to damages caused by the temblors.

They are asking for donations to purchase trauma supplies and continue to provide emergency aid to their patients.


The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has also mobilized aid to Syria, and is focusing on assessing the impact the quake had on water stations and any other interruptions to services. It is also assessing the damages schools face. UNICEF said another priority is helping unaccompanied children find their families.

You can donate here to help.

Powerful earthquake hits Syria and Turkey
Anas Alkharboutli—picture-alliance/dpa/APSyrian civilians and members of the White Helmets work to save people trapped beneath a destroyed building following a magnitude 7.8 earthquake that hit Syria, on Feb. 6 2023.

The White Helmets

The White Helmets, a nonprofit organization made up of 3,000 volunteers who help the Syrian community, said they need more equipment and supplies to continue numerous search and rescue operations in the region.

The organization previously helped deliver primary care to patients with COVID-19, offered ambulance services to those with more severe cases, and also regularly provides maternal healthcare.

You can make a financial contribution at the following link.

Turkish Red Crescent (Türk Kızılay)

The Turkish Red Crescent has more than 240 staff and hundreds of volunteers in the disaster region providing mobile kitchen and catering services to the region, according to a press release. They are also sending over tents, blankets and beds.

The organization is asking people to donate blood as they continue to ship blood from their existing supplies throughout the day. The Red Crescent provided their bank details for donations in a tweet, but you can also donate here.

International Rescue Committee

The International Rescue Committee (IRC), an organization that responds to the most serious humanitarian crises, works in more than 40 countries. “IRC teams are on the ground and working tirelessly to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff, local partners and those affected,” said Tanya Evans, the Syria Country Director for IRC.

Consider making a gift here.

Aftermath of the deadly earthquake in Kahramanmaras
Cagla Gurdogan—ReutersPeople gather around a bonfire following an earthquake in Kahramanmaras, Turkey on Feb. 6, 2023.

Save the Children

Save the Children is working in northwest Syria and Turkey to best assess aid necessary, but are planning to support affected communities with emergency kits amid the harsh winter weather. You can make a contribution to their Children’s Emergency Fund at the following link.

Global Giving

Global Giving, a nonprofit that connects other nonprofits to donors, has launched the Turkey and Syria Earthquake Relief Fund, with a goal of raising $5 million dollars to help with the immediate food, shelter and water needs. Once the initial need is completed, funds will support longer-term recovery efforts.

Project HOPE

Project HOPE, a global health and humanitarian aid organization, has deployed emergency teams to help on-the-ground. You can support their work here.

Humanitarian Relief Foundation

The IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation has been serving communities impacted by catastrophe and war since its founding in 1992. It is collecting donations to send water, food, and shelter materials to people in need. They also have a mobile soup kitchen making rounds in the region. Consider donating here.